Unknown to most local and regional fly fisherman, the Holston and French Broad Rivers are two of the most scenic rivers we have in the area. Because both are tailwaters, with regulated flows, temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year and the smallmouth experience a longer growing season and a longer growing seasons means larger fish. What’s more, the tailwaters are much more apt to clear after a summer storm when compared to their free stone cousins which means we get a lot more fishable days close to home compared to outfitters on the other side of the continental divide. In short, if you want to hone your A-game, a smallmouth float trip on the tailwaters located just east of town is a great way to do it.
While smallmouth are extremely aggressive and will readily take a fly, an angler’s skill level needs to be slightly higher to catch these fish due to the need to cast larger line class rods accurately at greater distances. Typical gear on a smallmouth trip will include 6 to 8 weight rods with both floating and sinking tip lines. When fishing fly fishing for small mouth bass we recommend that you be able to accurately cast 50 feet and have your leader lay out straight. This will help ensure success.
While the tailwaters close to home are where we spend the majority of our fishing time, we do venture out further afield when conditions allow. The upper Clinch River above Norris reservoir, the Pigeon, the Little Pigeon, and the Nolichucky Rivers are all fantastic free stone resources. The best time to get on one of these rivers is late in the spring or early summer before water levels have dropped too drastically to permit navigation. While small mouth are our primary focus on all of these float trips, the beauty of a warm water float is that you never really know what you are going to catch. We commonly catch carp, gar, hybrid bass, white bass, striped bass, freshwater drum, walleye, and cat fish on our floats. Don’t forget your swimsuit!